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Proceedings of the National Seminar & Exhibition

on Non-Destructive Evaluation
NDE 2011, December 8-10, 2011

USE OF LONG RANGE ULTRASONIC TESTING (LRUT) TECHNIQUE FOR HEALTH


ASSESSMENT OF CRITICAL PIPING IN LPG SERVICE IN A PETROLEUM REFINERY
V.S. Desai, Mahendra Pal, Mayank Banjare, Chandana Nancharaiah, Sushil Guria and Harsh Vardhan
Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Guwahati Refinery, Guwahati, Assam, India- 781020

ABSTRACT
Process piping carrying hydrocarbons in LPG service is normally designed for a life span of 15 years. These lines are
subject to corrosion, wear, mechanical pressurization and fatigue stress over a period of time during its operating
period. Therefore during the design stage these factors are taken care of during finalizing of the pipe schedule (thickness)
considering the cost economics. It is prudent to assess the health of these lines at a set frequency decided by the owner
based on several considerations like , corrosion rate, statutory legislative requirements etc. Once the design life is
crossed the inspection frequency has to be increased further to monitor the pipe health. There are certain sections of
the pipelines like portions crossing under the road crossing/culverts, underground portion, where online inspection
using conventional ultrasonic thickness gauging is not possible. To assess the health of these sections, advanced NDT,
LRUT (Long Range Ultrasonic Testing) was successfully used. LRUT is an ultrasonic based technique where three
forms of wave modes namely, longitudinal, torsional and flexural travel along the pipe. Defects of all sizes and
orientations can be detected by this technique. Remaining life calculation based on API570 and observations of LRUT
survey were found to corroborate with each other, accordingly, the LPG line was recommended for replacement at
those locations.
Keywords: Long Range Ultrasonic testing (LRUT), Corrosion under Insulation (CUI), Distance Amplitude Correction
(DAC), Corrosion Rate (MPY), Retiring Life Assessment (RLA).
INTRODUCTION

Long-Range Ultrasonic Testing (LRUT) is an advanced NonDestructive Testing. It is one of the fast inspection tools for
carrying out pipeline survey for corrosion and other
degradation using ultrasonic guided waves. LRUT has been
developed to detect metal loss in piping. It is a pulse-echo
system, aimed at testing large volumes of material from a single
test point. The technique was initially developed for detecting
Corrosion under Insulation (CUI) for piping in petrochemical
plant. Subsequently, it has found widespread use in other
inspection situations where pipes or tubes are normally not
accessible, viz. Pipes buried in soil, encased in a sleeve or
located at high elevation and heater tubes.

transducers fixed around the pipe, photograph no.1. These low


frequencies (in ultrasonic terms) are necessary to enable
appropriate wave modes to be generated. At these frequencies,
a liquid couplant between transducers and the surface is not
necessary. Satisfactory ultrasonic coupling being achieved with

The aim of LRUT is to test long lengths of pipe rapidly with


100% coverage of pipe wall and to identify areas of corrosion
or erosion for further evaluation using other NDT techniques
such as radiography or conventional ultrasonic inspection. The
technique is equally sensitive to metal loss on both outside
and inside surfaces of pipe.
PRINCIPLES OF OPERATION

LRUT employs low frequency guided waves, operating just


above audible frequencies, propagated from a ring of

Photograph No.1: LRUT Equipment

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Desai et.al : Proceedings of the National Seminar & Exhibition on Non-Destructive Evaluation

Fig. 2

Fig. 1

: Guided wave response obtained in LRUT.

mechanical or pneumatic pressure applied to back of the


transducers to maintain contact with pipe surface. Uniform
spacing of ultrasonic transducers around pipe circumference
allows guided waves to be generated that propagate
symmetrically along the pipe axis. These may be visualized as
a circular wave that sweeps along the pipe. Whole pipe wall
thickness is excited by the wave motion where the pipe is acting
as a wave-guide. Hence, it is termed as guided waves.
Propagation of these guided waves is governed principally by
frequency of the wave and thickness of the material. Wherever
the wave encounters a change in pipe wall thickness (whether
an increase or a decrease), a proportion of energy is reflected
back to the transducers, thereby providing a mechanism for
detection of discontinuities. In case of a pipe feature such as a
girth weld joint, increase in thickness is symmetrical around
the pipe, so the advancing circular wave front is also reflected
uniformly. Thus, the reflected wave, consisting predominantly
of the same wave mode as the incident wave, is also
symmetrical.
In case of pipe corrosion, decrease in thickness will be
localised, leading to scattering of incident wave (in addition
to reflection and mode conversion). Therefore, reflected wave
will consist of the incident wave mode plus the mode converted
components. The mode-converted waves tend to cause the pipe
to flex as they arise from a non-uniform source. Presence of

Fig. 3

Sensitivity to loss of cross section

these signals is a strong indicator of discontinuities such as


corrosion. LRUT is able to detect and distinguish between
symmetrical and flexural waves and both types are displayed.
The reflections are displayed as rectified signals in Amplitude
Vs Distance A-scan display, similar to that used in
conventional ultrasonic inspections, but with a time-based
range measured in tens of meters rather than centimeters.
A major complication for guided wave systems, as distinct
from conventional ultrasonic inspections is the dispersive
nature of guided waves; that is to say, velocity for most of the
guided waves varies with frequency. This causes a variety of
complications, one being that to calibrate
time base of the A-scan to read distance and not time, requires
a computer program to read in a velocity for the selected test
frequency from a calibration, or dispersion curve. There is a
library of dispersion curves built into the LRUT software for
a range of pipe diameter / wall-thickness combinations. Girth
welds in pipe produce dominant signals in A-scan and act as
important markers, used to set a Distance Amplitude
Correction (DAC) curve on display with which signals from
anomalies can be compared.
SCREENING PHILOSOPHY
LRUT does not provide a direct measurement of wall
thickness, but is sensitive to a combination of the depth and
circumferential extent of any metal loss, plus the axial length
to some degree. This is due to the transmission of a circular
wave along the pipe wall, which interacts with the annular
cross-section at each point. It is the reduction in this crosssection to which the guided wave is sensitive.

: LRUT A-scan DAC curves showing different amplitude categories.

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NDE 2011, December 8-10, 2011

Figure 2 illustrates that the technique is sensitive to flaw area


as a proportion of the pipe-wall cross-section.
It is equally sensitive to internal and external flaws. The effect
of multiple flaws is additive.

LRUT REPORT & OBSERVATIONS:


Table 1 : LRUT indication

Distance
relative to
datum

Indication
Description

Priority

Approx
Thickness
. (mm)

-4.54m

Cat 1.

Low

4.7

-3.77m

Cat 1.

Low

4.2

-2.54m

Cat 2.

Med

3.5

Category 1 (Green): Responses lower than -26dB line,


Estimated cross sectional area wall loss in the range of 3% to
9% (formerly Minor).

-1.67m

Cat 3.

Low

2.7

-1.33m

Concrete Interface

Low

Category 2 (Red): Responses above the -26dB line, but are


lower than blue line at -20dB (formerly Moderate), Estimated
cross sectional area wall loss in the range of 9% to 15%.

-0.65m

Pipe Support

Low

1.44m

Flange

Low

CATEGORIZATION OF LRUT INDICATIONS


LRUT indications were primarily categories 1, 2 & 3 as
Minor, Moderate and Severe, in terms of amplitude
respectively. Distance amplitude curves (DAC) were
superimposed on the LRUT indications for comparison
purpose.

Category 3 (Blue): Responses exceeding -20dB blue line,


Estimated cross sectional area wall loss > 15%.

Photograph No.2: Dia. 3" under ground road crossing LPG piping
from South side

Fig. 4

Photograph No. 3: Dia. 3" under ground road crossing LPG piping
from North side

: Isometric sketch of Dia. 3" under ground LPG piping at road crossing

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Desai et.al : Proceedings of the National Seminar & Exhibition on Non-Destructive Evaluation

Fig. 5

: Above three sketch from top to bottom are 1) Dia. 3" LPG piping plan view, 2) LRUT indications /signals 3) Superimposed
LRUT indication on DAC curves

REMAINING LIFE ASSESSMENT (RLA)

E = Quality factor from Table-A-1-A


of B 31.3=1.0;

Basis for this retiring life calculation is API RP 574 and ASME
B 31.3. The design data of the subject pipeline is as follows:Material: SA 106 Gr. B, Sch 40, Dia. 3 Inch;
Thickness: 5.49 mm;
Design Pressure (Pump shutoff pressure): 15 kg/cm2 (g)
Design Temperature: 70 C

Corrosion rate calculation formulae:


Corrosion rate (mm/ yr)

t initial t actual
=
Time in yrs

Calculation for minimum thicknes required:


(A) Initial design thickness (t) =

P. D

2(SE + PY)

Where, P = Initial design gauge pressure = 15 kg/cm2 (g);


D= Outside diameter of pipe = 88.9 mm;
S = Stress value for material from Table-A-1
of B 31.3 = 20 ksi;

Y= Coefficient from Table 304.1.1


of B 31.3 = 0.4.
t

15 x 88.9
= 0.474 mm
2 (20 x 1000 x 0.07 + 15 x 0.4)

(B) Corrosion allowance +


Erosion allowance (C) = 1.5 mm.
(C) t m = t + C = 0.474 + 1.5 = 1.96 mm.
Tolerance on SA 106 Gr. B is 12.5 % under;
Therefore; Minimum
tm
1.96
thickness required
= = = 2.247 mm.
Tolerance
0.875

Remaining life (in years) calculation formulae:


Remaining life

t actual t required
=
Corrosion rate

NDE 2011, December 8-10, 2011

As per LRUT survey:


Remaining thickness = 2.7 mm as on 10th Feb 2011
Original thickness = 5. 49

as on 10th Aug 2003

Time in yrs

: 7.5 years

Corrosion Rate

5.49 2.7
= = 0.372 MPY
7.5

Remaining Life

2.7 - 2.247
= = 1.21 years
0.372

Remaining life calculations was done by taking the minimum


thickness found out in LRUT survey. The minimum life was
found out to be 1.21 years. The LPG line was recommended
for replacement and same were replaced as per LRUT findings.
CONCLUSION
Remaining life calculation based on LRUT survey was found
reliable and accurate and is helpful for health assessment of
inaccessible piping. In comparison with other methods of
monitoring, Inspections can be carried out more frequently

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with LRUT because Scaffolding is not necessary, pipes do


not have to be dug up, only a small area of insulation has to be
removed, Plant does not have to be shut down, on average
60m of pipe can be inspected from one location, internal and
external corrosion are detected simultaneously and the
complete pipe circumference is inspected.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The authors acknowledge the help bestowed by the
management of Indian Oil Corporation Limited in carrying
out the study and extending full support at all stages.
REFERENCES
1. Inspection Department, Guwahati Refinery,
IOCL,LRUT Report on Offsite Underground Piping
2. M &I department, IOCL,Corrosion Manual
3. API RP 571, Dec 2003, Damage Mechanisms Affecting
Fixed equipment in the Refining Industry
4. API RP 574, Nov 2009, Inspection Practices for Piping
System Components.
5. ASME B 31.3, Oct 2009, Process Piping Guide